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Beat summer’s heat from a kayak

The cost of the shuttle is included in your rental.
  Melissa Lowrie
  Melissa Lowrie

By Melissa Lowrie
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Photos by Melissa Lowrie
Take 90 dollars, 52 turtles, five kids and one river; add sunscreen and snacks and you’ll create a super fun summer day.

Canoe Kids & Co. (& Co. is me: driver, writer, cash dispenser) headed to Dahlonega again to do a little kayaking. A friend suggested we investigate Appalachian Outfitters where they offer tubing, canoe and kayaking trips.

There are four trip options to choose from: the Chestatee River, Yahoola Creek, Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area and the Etowah River.

Our group that day—five kids ranging from age 7 to 13—chose the Chestatee River. The web site said it was a six mile trip averaging two and a half hours. The Chestatee is the most popular choice for large groups and families; not a difficult river, with only a few Class 1 rapids.

  Canoe Kids prepare for the trip down the Chestatee River at the put-in spot.

You have the option of renting canoes or kayaks, or you can bring your own. The cost of renting ($28 for a kayak for one, $43 for a kayak for two) included a life vest, paddle and the all-important shuttle. If you bring your own watercraft, you’ll still owe $10 per person for the shuttle.

We left Big Canoe about 10 a.m. and had buns in boats by 11:30. The drop point is where you pay, sign your waivers and get your rentals. Part of our group had their own kayaks, so we opted to take the cars to the take-out location on the front end of the trip; they shuttled us back to the put-in spot. There are port-o-lets and changing rooms at both locations.

Our trip was on a Tuesday in July and it was amazing. The river has flowing at just the right speed, and while there were others on the river, it wasn’t crowded. The scenery was beautiful and there were so many turtles ... the kids were delighted to look for them. My son kept a running tally and said he counted 52.

While turtle counting was fun, the kids had another sighting. As told by Jack Lowrie, “We saw a little head swimming across the river, [in front of their kayaks] and we saw spots on its back. When he scrambled up the rock on the bank we saw it was a fawn; it was so cool.”

The younger boys stayed out in front of the group while the adults brought up the rear. We never worried as the river was mild and all wore life vests. All the kids in the group had prior experience kayaking, but a true beginner should have no trouble. The two-person kayaks would probably be a good call for a younger kid and an adult as little arms get tired quickly.

Not a bad view on a summer day.   The Canoe Kids race on the river.

There is a halfway point they loosely call a beach, which we were told is a good spot to stop for lunch. We were also warned that most of the beach had been washed away due to the prolonged rain; this proved to be true. We found it (the only way I figured it out was the conglomeration of parked canoes and people) and stopped for a break and had a quick lunch on the bank; I highly suggest packing a snack and drinks ... our troop was ravenous.

This ‘beach’ area, owned by Appalachian Outfitters, is a good spot for a break.

It was a fun float trip and when we got to the end—be on the lookout for the orange stake—there was an Appalachian Outfitters employee there to pull our kayaks out of the water. (They also helped us into the river at the start and appreciate a well-deserved tip.) The two and a half hour estimation proved dead on ... we were back to the lot at 2 p.m.

Just a few of the turtles we saw along the banks of the Chestatee.

The website: has all the information you need with directions and a phone number. The site says to make a reservation, which we did, but really didn’t need. Their two busiest days are Father’s Day and Independence Day, according to our shuttle driver.

It’s safe to say the group, both moms and kids, would recommend this outing. It was a great day overall.

Even as most kids head back to school in August, it’s still technically summer. Take the time to enjoy the warm weather and count some turtles, you’ll be glad you did. As always, enjoy an adventure with your Canoe Kids.


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11293 Big Canoe
Big Canoe, GA 30143
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